Former Employees Sue State Health Department
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Department of Health is facing a lawsuit. This, after nearly 200 employees were let go when the agency claimed it lacked funds.
The suit has been filed on behalf of more than 150 plaintiffs. They are suing the State Health Department on the grounds of wrongful termination, lack of due process, negligence, and other claims.
The lawsuit reads in part, "This is an action brought by former and current employees of the Oklahoma State Department of Health who were terminated or forced to retire early under a Reduction in Force plan in 2017 and 2018.”
In 2017, the agency claimed it had a lack of funds, resulting in a taxpayer bailout of $30 million. But that wasn't enough to stop the termination of nearly 200 employees.
In 2018, an audit was released, stating the Health Department mismanaged money, and the layoffs were unnecessary.
Now, the former employees are calling for justice.
The lawsuit states that, "The financial crisis presented to the Legislature and to the public simply did not exist."
It goes on to say, "Defendants maintained a slush fund of discretionary dollars so that the monies would not be taken back by the legislature."
“We’ve been tracking it over the interim to make sure they didn’t spend it and they’ve been very open about where it was. It wasn’t just sitting in one account. But they fully anticipated us calling that back,” Senator Greg Treat (R) President Pro Tempore, said.
According to the lawsuit, "As of the end of the audit period, February 28, 2018, nearly four (4) months after the emergency $30 million was transferred to the Department, the $30 million is still sitting at the Department, untouched."
A spokesperson for the Health Department says due to this being a legal matter, they cannot comment on this issue.